On Oct. 9, Brenden Bickerstaff-Clark decided to break the heartbreaking news to his 8-year-old son Cameron that Cameron’s mother had died of a heroin overdose. A friend recorded the conversation and Bickerstaff-Clark later uploaded the video to his Facebook page, where it received hundreds of thousand of shares and comments.
The reaction to the video was mixed, with many criticizing the Youngstown, Ohio, native for seeking attention over his son’s grief. In an interview with US Weekly, Bickerstaff-Clark explained his true motivations behind posting the video.
“I wanted to help people,” he said. “I said, let me record this whole event so maybe someone sees it and says, ‘I don’t want somebody to have to tell my child I’m dead.’ I did it to try and wake people up.”
“I had a girl the other day message me that she was driving in her car on her way to go relapse, but then she watched my video, pulled over to the side of the road, cried and went back home.”
Bickerstaff-Clark himself is a former heroin addict, 100 days clean since this article’s publishing. He attends outpatient treatment three times a week.
“When I was using, it was horrible. I looked like the walking dead. I weighed 130 pounds. I wore the same clothes for a week,” he said. “I wasn’t showering for two months. I was sleeping in porta potties and on people’s floors. I would get $20 and then instead of getting something to eat, I would go get high because I was so dope-sick.”
“You lose everything. Heroin takes everything away,” he continued. “You lose your dignity, your self-respect, your whole reason for being alive. There are addicts out there probably doing a shot right now and hoping it’ll be their last. It’s not a way to live, it’s a way to die.”
Bickerstaff-Clark, who is a pizza maker, is currently staying in a sober house while his son lives in a homeless shelter with his paternal grandmother. He is hoping to find a place where he can live together with his son.
“I would love to actually be there and be a dad and put him to bed at night and get him on the school bus,” Bickerstaff-Clark said. “My son lost his mother; I can’t let my son lose his father.”